Classic Rock Corner
I'm going to out myself here and now: I do not get why people love ZZ Top. If you are one of those people, can you explain it to me like I'm five years old?
Chances are you are one of those people. According to various online sources, the band has sold more than 50 million albums in their 43 years together. They're in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And their popularity is not just a Texan thing. A few years ago, I was visiting my sister in Prague and doing some sightseeing. I met a very nice older man who was walking his dog. He asked me where I was from and I said Texas. His face immediately lit up and he said "Zed Zed Top!"
Perhaps it's because I wasn't raised in Houston? But honestly, that shouldn't matter, because when I was a baby music-lover in Oklahoma, my dad and uncle were die-hard Tres Hombres fans, playing covers of the band's biggest hits in late-night garage jam sessions and posing for snapshot photos à la the choreography in the "Legs" video. My dad probably still has his Flying V.
The band's most-quoted lyrics are either the skeevy, snarling "a how how how" or have something to do with fellatio or another sex act. Maybe that's the rub (pun totally intended). I mean, I actually pretty much love fucked-up grungy blues, but it's the lyrics that annoy me most.
It's like they were written by some hormonal 15-year-old boy. And I'm all for the working-man blue-collar ethos in theory, but I am neither a blue-collar working man nor a 15-year-old pubescent boy. I am, however, mostly a fan of sharp-dressed men.
Maybe I'm not their target audience? Or perhaps I've only heard the "radio hits" and haven't been exposed to the good-stuff deep cuts. If that's the case, I'm willing to be re-educated. Tell me what there is to love about ZZ Top.
The Clash Catch Legionaire's Disease
By the time The Clash hit Houston's Cullen Theater on October 5, 1979, Lester Bangs had described their tour de force as "desperation uncontrived, unstaged, a fury unleashed on the stage...real pain that connects with the nerves of the audience."
Yet Texans had already been enthralled by the Sex Pistols' tumultuous Southern jaunt in 1978. Though the Clash, also a legacy band from punk year zero, were dubbed "The Only Band That Matters" by their record company, Houstonians were a bit more discerning, it seems.
The London band found itself paired with Legionaire's Disease Band, likely the most notorious in the Bayou City. By some accounts, the local firebrands stole the show, especially since the Clash seemed inebriated and off-kilter, as argues Torry Mercer of local punks Anarchitex.
Jerry Anomie, singer of Legionaires, still doesn't buy into the Clash mystique overall. On Facebook, he characterized guitarist/singer Mick Jones and bass player/singer Paul Simonon as "sissies" and "pussy assed." Some backstory is necessary.
Legionaires readily accepted the $350 guarantee and grabbed an extra $200 to make and distribute flyers by Byron C. Haynes. On the red handbills, Legionaire's were erroneously depicted in large print as the headliners.
The Clash arrived late to the venue, so only opener Joe Ely and the "headliners" could test the room's sound system. Jones sauntered up in a derby hat, like a rock star incarnate, according to Anomie. He also glared at the Houston punk icon after Anomie complimented his "fashion" choice. Both Simonon and Jones later matched that glare after the show.
Neither seemed to appreciate Anomie flashing "his cock around like a lasso roping a redneck" after his duct-taped clothes came apart, which became part of the pre-Clash spectacle that night. Or perhaps they were chagrined by the swastika and "LSD" graffiti on Anomie's chest. David Ensminger
OFF!'s Anti-Aging Secret
Touring with younger bands keeps OFF! young in a sense, and makes for a complete punk-rock meal.
"You want to hit them on a few levels," says front man Keith Morris, a punk legend from his time in Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. "We need to show off a little bit of our knowledge."
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If they are touring, they might as well put together the best package possible and not drag along a cruddy band because they're on the cover of a magazine and all the teen girls like them, right?
"Why would we wanna do this at the age we are doing it at and show up and be wheeled in wheelchairs?" Morris laughs. "Or get hooked up to an oxygen tank?"
He talks of touring in an iron lung, but I tell him we would all just wheel him into the mosh pit at that point. Craig Hlavaty
OFF! plays with Negative Approach and Power Trip, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 20, at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel, 713-225-5483 or www.warehouselive.com.